Living Bird Magazine
Caspian TernHydroprogne caspia
- ORDER: Charadriiformes
- FAMILY: Laridae
As large as a big gull, the Caspian Tern is the largest tern in the world. Its large coral red bill makes it one of the most easily identified terns throughout its worldwide range.More ID Info
- Charrán del Caspio (Spanish)
- Sterne caspienne (French)
- Cool Facts
- The Caspian Tern aggressively defends its breeding colony. It will pursue, attack, and chase potential predatory birds, and can cause bloody wounds on the heads of people who invade the colony. The entire colony will take flight, however, when a Bald Eagle flies overhead, exposing the chicks to predation from gulls.
- The world's largest breeding colony is on a small, artificial island in the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington, home to more than 6,000 breeding pairs each year.
- Young Caspian Terns appear to have a difficult time learning to catch fish efficiently. They stay with their parents for long periods of time, and are fed by them even on the wintering grounds. Many young terns do not return to the nesting grounds for several years, remaining instead on the wintering areas.
- The oldest recorded wild Caspian Tern was at least 29 years, 7 months old when it was found in Louisiana in 1989. It had been banded in Michigan in 1959. The average life span of Great Lakes Caspian Terns is estimated to be 12 years.